Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Gallinazo of the Barranco District

Iglesia La Ermita de Barranco with Gallinazo (Black Vultures)
Iglesia La Ermita de Barranco with Gallinazo (Black Vultures)Iglesia La Ermita de Barranco with Gallinazo (Black Vultures)Iglesia La Ermita de Barranco with Gallinazo (Black Vultures)
It’s the little things that stick in your mind, like why would all these vulture-like birds be perched on a church in the Barranco district of Lima? Yeah, the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros) and the walkway to the sea (Bajada de los Baños) are cool, but those birds are much cooler.

The church in question is the Iglesia La Ermita. It has a nice, ochre-colored front, but on closer inspection, the church is abandoned, with the ceiling barely holding together. When we asked at the information center in the nearby Parque de Barranco and showed the women the picture of the church with the birds (flapping our arms for emphasis), she said the word “gallinazo” which would be a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus).

According to the Wikipedia entry for the Barranco District, “[t]he cliffs of Chorrillos shield Barranco from colder and more humid winds coming from the South. As a result, Barranco has a micro-climate that is warmer and drier than many of the other districts of Lima, which are generally more humid, especially between May and October.” We are wondering if this micro-climate is why the vultures congregate here. Or, it could just a convenient (abandoned) location near the coast that they can easily ride the thermals or scavenge fish. We never saw them eating anything, so perhaps they dine in other Lima districts and just sleep in the Barranco?  We noticed that while the vultures perch on the church during the day, they seem to go to the trees in a nearby park to roost for the evening. 

Left: The Chorrillos District as Viewed from the Barranco District; Center and Right: More Views of the Iglesia La Ermita
The Chorrillos District as Viewed from the Barranco DistrictMore Views of the Iglesia La Ermita

Birds on Crosses – Symbolic?
Birds on Crosses – Symbolic?Birds on Crosses – Symbolic?Birds on Crosses – Symbolic?

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